Time is a reflection of God’s mysterious ways. Considered one of the few constants of our cosmic existence, time can be encountered so subjectively that people can have multiple perceptions of the very same moment.
So it was with Michael and Jamie LaBelle, a Catholic husband and wife of four years. One year prior, they had met with an adoption agency for the first time, unsure of how smoothly or how quickly this process would unfold. Now they were fully fledged parents, holding their daughter Gianna on her first day of life.
In the eyes of this baby girl, Michael’s conversion from stranger to loving father was immediate. “She knew he was her dad,” Jamie reflects. But for Jamie, Gianna’s birth was a special day that pointed back many years. She believes God had been preparing her heart for this reality from the beginning.
Since childhood, Jamie had been very drawn to adoption. As a teen, she would save her babysitting money for future adoption costs. After marriage, she figured they would adopt after raising a few kids of their own. But God had another plan, and reproductive conditions didn’t allow them to conceive. It took Michael longer to discern this path; unlike his wife, the thought of adoption was new and foreign. But he assented, and they agreed a domestic, infant adoption was best for them.
Having gained friends at Good Shepherd Children & Family Services and experience as a social worker at a pregnancy resource center, Jamie was well prepared. They used St. Joseph Adoption Ministry in Kansas City, KS for placement and local organizations and agencies for their home study and support. Michael and she were matched with a birth mother four times, but they passed over one, and the other three ultimately kept their newborn.
All those failed attempts became emotionally and financially difficult. For each match, there is a fee, and prospective adoptive couples incur the birth mother’s medical expenses as services rendered. “We knew that was a risk going in,” says Jamie, and “that’s where the adoption grant has been such a blessing.”
Then Gianna came. While the adoption has been finalized, the LaBelles are still ironing out details of their semi-open relationship with her biological mother. Both Jamie’s and Michael’s families are supportive, welcoming, and learning along with them—how to care and advocate for an adopted child, and what language to use to include her and affirm her identity.
“Days go by, and I forget I didn’t give birth to her,” Jamie beams. “She’s just part of our family.”
Since becoming a mother, she has become more passionate about pro-life issues. She works for the Coalition for Life, a community-based, Christian pro-life organization that works to end abortion peacefully. She’s deeply aware that her daughter’s biological mother chose life, and that she didn’t have to. She encourages others, particularly pregnant women, to realize that life, as well as adoption, is a beautiful thing:
“You are holding someone’s Gianna in your womb.”
The LaBelles applied for the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Grant in late 2018, shortly after Gianna’s adoption, and received their award in early 2019. Jamie says they would like to adopt again, and the funds could help make that possible. Here’s how the Office of NFP supports those facing infertility and considering adoption.
20 Archbishop May Drive
St. Louis, MO 63119
20 Archbishop May Drive | St. Louis, MO 63119 | 314.792.7005